Updated: June 8, 2015
Fire Starter Reviews:Mastering the Art of Fire Starting: Finding the Right Fire Starter - Whether you want to warm up your woodstove, build up a bonfire at your campground, or you are the unwitting star of your own episode of "Man Vs. Wild," you need to know how to build a strong fire. Man's greatest discovery, fire, can also be elusive. Even with matches and lighter fluid, it can take some work to get embers and a good flame. If you don't have these handy, it can be nearly impossible, especially for those among us who are used to pressing a button for our heaters and stoves. Fire starters are a great way to ensure that you have the power, protection, and warmth of fire when you need it. How do these work? What should you look for? What style is right for you? What brand is the best? How much do fire starters cost? We'll answer your burning questions in this guide.
Why Do You Need Fire Starters? - Our forefathers didn't have magnesium fire starters. They didn't have lighter fluid or propane torches to nudge a budding flame along into a roaring fire. Our forefathers didn't have a lot of things we did - does that mean we can't enjoy them? Starting a fire can be hard when you are inside working with your wood stove; imagine standing in a cold, windy, or wet location and trying to start a fire to keep you warm, safe, and dry, especially when your daily life is more likely to involve computers and cars than fires and kindling. This is where fire starters come in handy. And our forefathers did use fire starters; they just weren't the sleek little keychain models that we have today. A rock or some twigs can be a fire starter in the right hands. Why use a fire starter? Quite simply because they make life a little easier, and that can make a tremendous difference whether you are trying to warm your home on a winter night or working for survival while lost in the woods. You can browse the best selling fire starters online here.
Best Fire Starters:Different Types of Fire Starters
You can make items from common household materials that will help encourage an ember to become a flame. Soaking 100 percent cotton balls in petroleum jelly, and then storing them in a sealable plastic bag is a great way to ensure you have the beginnings of a beautiful fire. You can also use newspaper, lint from your dryer (both of which burn very quickly and may not give you enough time to build the fire), or saw dust. But these items, as useful as they are, do not actually start a fire. For this, you'll need a fire starter, such as magnesium or firesteel, to create a spark. With these materials, and some tinder, you will have the fire you need for outdoor survival or just a cozy evening by the fireplace.
*Magnesium Fire Starters. To use a magnesium fire starter, you shave small flakes off the solid block of magnesium. This increases the surface area of the magnesium and sets up the circumstances necessary for the chemical reaction that starts the fire. The magnesium block comes with an iron striker; this is scraped against another metal, like steel or iron (which is why it is a very good idea to always carry a pocket knife). This produces sparks, which jumpstart the reaction in the magnesium and creates fire. Many survivalists rate magnesium fire starters as the best because they work well - and they work in wet conditions. Wind presents more of a problem as the small flakes fly away, but shielding your attempts with your body can prevent this. And to be fair, it is a problem with any fire starting method. Magnesium fire starters can be very affordable. The Genuine Issue Magnesium Survival Fire Starter, for instance, is less than $10 on Amazon. This is a government issue fire starter and works in almost any weather conditions. It reviews very well with consumers on Amazon, REI, CampingLights, ABetterTrip, and other sites. The Genuine Issue Fire Starter comes on a small chain that you can attach to your keyring, backpack, or purse. It is small enough to fit comfortably in your pocket so you can have it when you need it.
*Firesteel. Firesteels work on the same principle as magnesium fire starters; flakes are shaved off to allow for rapid oxidation, which in turns allows you to generate fire. Firesteel is made up of different metals. A typical steel alloy contains 19 percent iron, 38 percent cerium, 22 percent lanthanum, 4 percent neodymium, 4 percent praseodymium, and 4 percent magnesium. The composition of softer metals allows for hot sparks. If you are looking for a firesteel, two names emerge again and again. The first is FireSteel. FireSteel's GobSpark Armageddon FireSteel with Scraper and Lanyard is a popular model, and its ease of use is noted again and again. It works when wet, lights thousands of fires, and produces sparks that are 5500 degrees F. The larger handle allows you to work with the FireSteel even when you're wearing gloves, and the surface area is longer and thicker, allowing for easier fire starting. Check out this video for a review of the GobSpark Armageddon and the GobSpark Ranger (http://firesteel.com/products/GobSpark-Armageddon-FireSteel-with-Scraper-and-Lanyard.html) to see how it looks in action. The Armageddon is $11. The Swedish Firesteel is tremendously popular with reviewers and consumers alike. This "flash of genius" is "simple and won't fail," according to reviewers at ExpoTV. Developed by the Swedish Department of Defense, this firesteel is designed to work in any weather and any conditions from lighting your campfire to making a fire in a survival situation. It produces sparks up to 5500 degrees F and will ignite fires in dry grass, paper, and that dryer lint you carry around with you. It is used by armies all over the world and lasts for about 12,000 strikes. This compact fire starter should be in every camper's, hiker's, and survivalist's bag or pocket. It is just under $16.
*Piston Fire Starters. Piston fire starters work just like the pistons in an engine. When the air molecules in the fire starter's cylinder are rapidly compressed, they spark a fire. These are reliable and will work under virtually any weather conditions. They may not be as easy for the uninitiated to use as a firesteel or magnesium fire starter, and you need to make sure you have the cylinder, rod, lubricating oil for the rod, and char cloth (or a square of cotton from your t-shirt in a pinch). This video demonstrates the use of a piston fire starter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3hB8SI3kts). The downside to these is that they need very dry tinder to work, and they can be difficult to master. If you want a fire starter to experiment with, this is great. If you want one you can put in your bag in case you need it, magnesium and steel fire starters are best - and matches and lighters are ok, too. If you want to give it a try, go with the Boy Scouts. The Scout Fire Piston has a durable polymer construction, aluminum piston shaft, spare o-ring, and works even after submerged in water. It is covered by a lifetime warranty and costs $34. You never know when you'll need to make a fire; it could be at a backyard barbeque or it could be during an extended power outage. Be ready for anything with a great fire starter.